Fresh Ideas from the Freezer – FarmRich Jalapeno Poppers

The second product I chose for my “Fresh Ideas from the Freezer” MyMagazine Sharing Network mission was FarmRich Jalapeno Poppers.

Rather than eating them as a snack or appetizer, I decided to have them as a side item with a Lightlife Chili “Cheese” Smart Dog.

The first thing I did was make a vegan ranch dressing to dip my jalapeno poppers in. You can find all the details for the recipe I used at the link above.

Vegan Ranch DressingThe dressing was pretty easy to make. Basically you just dump all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, whisk them together and then let them chill in the refrigerator for a while.

I omitted the parsley from the recipe, because I didn’t have any on hand.

After initially whisking the ingredients together, the dressing was pretty Ranch Mixing Bowlwatery, so I added some additional vegan mayo and seasonings to thicken it up a bit. Once I got it all mixed together, I poured it into a mason jar and put in the refrigerator for a few hours.

This is what the finished product looked liked:

Vegan Ranch Dressing Jar

Next, I prepared the jalapeno poppers. The package instructs you to preheat the oven to 450 degrees and cook the poppers in a single layer on a baking sheet for between 11-14 minutes, depending on how many you are making.

Poppers Baking SheetSince I was just making 4 poppers, I cooked mine for 12 minutes. There are also instructions for frying them, but I didn’t want to mess with cleaning up and disposing of frying oil, so I went with the baking method.

While the poppers were in the oven, I got to work on my chili “cheese” dogs. I Chili Cheese Smart Dogsalready had some Lightlife Smart Dogs, which is a vegan veggie dog, and some homemade vegan hot dog buns in the freezer. I made the buns using this recipe. I added some Amy’s Organic Spicy Chili, which is a vegan canned chili I had used previously to make vegan chili dogs. Not pictured is the Daiya cheddar style shreds, which is a vegan cheese substitute.

Smart Dog CookingThe cooking instructions for the Smart Dogs suggest boiling them. I tried that the first time I prepared them and I didn’t care for the results, so I opted to brown this one in a skillet with a bit of canola oil.

I microwaved the frozen bun for about a minute and then split it with my bread knife and put in a dry skillet to toast it, while the veggie dog was cooking.

Hot Dog Bun

Once everything was close to being ready, I put a quarter cup of the chili in the microwave and heated it for about 30 seconds.

After all the components were ready, I put the veggie dog on the toasted bun, topped it with the chili and 1/8th cup of the Daiya cheddar shreds. Usually, I’d also add some yellow mustard, but I forgot about it this time.

Here’s the finished product with the poppers and a side of vegan ranch dressing:

Fresh Ideas From the Freezer - FarmRich Jalapeno Poppers

As I mentioned, I have made these vegan chili dogs before. The Smart Dogs do a pretty good job of imitating the look and texture of a meat hot dog, but they don’t have a lot of flavor. I don’t think I’d just eat one by itself, but with some decent toppings on it, it’s not a bad, easy meal. Using the homemade hot dog bun helps amp up the flavor.

The Amy’s chili isn’t really all that spicy for a “spicy” chili and it’s a bit on the bland side, but as far as canned chili goes, it’s about as good as any I have tried. A homemade chili would be better, but I’m not really dedicated enough to the chili dog experience to make homemade chili for this purpose.  At some point I may look for a recipe for an actual vegan hot dog chili.

The Daiya cheddar style shreds are frankly, pretty gross on their own, but they actually work pretty well for adding cheese flavor to dishes that usually have cheese. I’m not sure why that is, but when I put them in things that I would normally put cheese in, they’re generally pretty good, even though I find them pretty unpleasent to just eat plain.

The FarmRich jalapeno poppers were a bit disappointing. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t particularly good either. The breading is very bland and is a bit too thick. Perhaps the texture would be better if you fried them. This might be a good product to try out in an air fryer for those who have one. The inside of the popper was pretty good. The peppers were pretty mild, but had good flavor and the cream cheese filling was pretty tasty. It was really the lack of seasoning and slightly off-putting texture of the breading that drug these down. Not terrible by any means and if you really need a poppers fix and don’t have any other options, I wouldn’t steer you away from purchasing these, but not something I’d really recommend.

The vegan ranch dressing was also a bit disappointing. Even with the extra mayo, I found it to be too watery. However, the biggest problem I had with it was the taste of the soymilk was way too prominent. If I were to make them again I’d probably use a different non-dairy milk….perhaps cashew or almond and add it in a bit at a time, instead of using the amount called for in the recipe, so that I could make sure I got the consistency I wanted without having to keep adding mayo. I’d probably also add more seasoning than the recipe called for. These poppers really need a stronger, more substantial dip to compensate for the blandness of the breading. Some sort of vegan cheese dip might have been a better choice than the ranch.

Overall, while the poppers and the dip were a bit of a let down, this was a reasonably enjoyable, easy to make dinner.

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